Monday, February 27, 2012

The Tomato Test--More Beyond the Bed

This year I plan to try something new with our tomato crop.  I am going to create an upside-down hanging tomato garden.  Mostly I am going to do this because I always forget to stake the tomatoes in time.  We lose a good amount of the harvest to the fact that it is lying on the ground.  Also, I figure this will free up more of our limited sunny garden space for other crops.  Now I just need to convince my husband to attach plant hangars to the south side of the house.

From what I have read there are mixed thoughts on this idea.  Some say you get a better harvest others say your yield is less.  It seems that the smaller tomato varieties do best in this arrangement.  That works for me since smaller tomato varieties do better in the Pacific Northwest anyway.

Below are the steps for what I hope will be a great hanging tomato harvest:
1.      Start with a “hanging planter.”   Almost anything will do, old utility buckets or fancy hanging baskets.  You will need to make a 2-3” diameter hole in the bottom of whatever you choose. I plan to use one of those wire hanging baskets with a fiber liner.
2.      Make your hole in the center of the bottom of the basket (or a as close to center as you can get).
3.      With your bucket/basket right side up place some anchoring material (sphagnum moss, newspaper landscape fabric, etc.) around the hole. 
4.      Then find a friend to hold your bucket/basket (or hang it) and feed your tomato plant, pointing down, through the anchoring material and hole.  Now you should have a basket with a root ball in the bowl and the stem poking through the bottom.
5.      Fill the pot with good potting soil.  Cover with mulch or something to help keep the soil from drying out too quickly.

*Extra credit*
If you want to go a step further you can plant herbs such as marjoram, oregano or parsley on the top portion of your basket.  According to my sources, these herbs should not interfere with or steal nutrients from your tomatoes (it has to do with the configuration of the plantings-I am not going to get into it here) as long as you give everything enough water and start with good soil. 

I will post some pictures once I get my upside-down planter going.  It is too early in the season to start this…though I could get the planter ready.

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